Universal Registry of Things

registry dataset evaluating data

An open database about objects, to support the reuse (repair, recirculation, upcycling) and help evaluate the potential of objects for secondary markets.

Update on June 2021: see more information about the process of prototyping this concept in these lab notes.


The Universal Registry of Things is a trusted source of information about how to reuse objects. It covers information about repair, customisation and repurposing of virtually any kind of thing.

Examples of data to be featured:

  • Manufacturer
  • Support and end-of-life policy;
  • Versions and official recalls;
  • Price of object offered online (new/used);
  • Materials;
  • Service manuals;
  • Parts;
  • Repair tools;
  • Tutorials of repair and upcyling;
  • Examples of reuse;
  • How to dispose of.

Relation to other concept ideas

The Universal Registry of Things provides the information groundwork for the Point and Reuse app, as well as having indirect connections both to Save this Thing and

Open questions

  • Who is responsible for maintaining the database? Is it an organisation? A consortium of interested parties?
  • Is it relevant to set it up as a blockchain? Or a decentralised database / open protocol?
  • What are the risks involved? Copyright infringement, restricted materials etc.


Prototyping the structure for the data registry. Ongoing documentation can be found here.

Main target groups

  1. Citizen / Household
  2. Professional Repair
  3. Community Reuse

Supporting Research Data

"to be honest, eBay has been probably the main way of valuing stock. You can type in the specs of a laptop into eBay, you can click on sold listings, and you can see what a similar type product has sold for over the last week or month."


IFIXIT Repair Guide

IFIXIT is a comprehensive portal with "repair guides to every thing, written by everyone". Its main focus are electric and electronic equipment, but there are guides for other types of things as well.

What do you need to fix?



Example of individual entry for a Thinkpad laptop on Thinwiki:



eBay What it's Worth

eBay is often used by both businesses and volunteer groups operating in secondary markets to evaluate products. What it's worth is a web service to make that easier.

Update: apparently, eBay discontinued this web service.

"Use eBay's appraisal tool to see the value of items bought and sold in specific categories"



While essentially different in purpose, Thingiverse is another database of objects that can be used to benchmark ideas for the Universal Registry of Things.

MakerBot's Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things. As the world's largest 3D printing community, we believe that everyone should be encouraged to create and remix 3D things, no matter their technical expertise or previous experience. In the spirit of maintaining an open platform, all designs are encouraged to be licensed under a Creative Commons license, meaning that anyone can use or alter any design.


Persistent things

There’s an exuberance of energy on the surface of the Earth. As Georges Bataille suggested “[…]there is generally no growth but a luxurious squandering of energy in every form!” This excess of energy is stored in things. However, our production systems dissipate this energy willingly and catastrophically through institutional infrastructures, activities and organisations that fail to reinvest things within recuperative regimes or frameworks. We have failed to notice that matter can be designed to persevere. Persistent Things interrogates how we can change our relationship to materials to ensure they persist over time.

Persistent Things

Open Repair Data standard

As members of the Open Repair Alliance, organisations are committed to share data that is accessible, useful and usable for a range of partners. To ensure this, organisations are expected to consider that their Open Repair data is:

  • Structured - data is valid in line with the requirements of the standard
  • Comparable - data can be linked across publishers through codelists and shared references
  • Open - data is appropriately licensed and published
  • Accurate - data is as accurate as possible
  • Timely - data is kept up-to-date and updated regularly The standard is focused on collecting and sharing information about repair of small electricals and consumer electronics. Due to the open nature of the standard, it could in the future lead to adaptations to cater for other areas of repair information.

See also: Notes about repair data from the session during Fixfest 2020.

Open Repair Data Standard


Recycleye has partnered with academics at leading universities to create WasteNet; the world’s largest dataset for waste, holding over 2.5 million training images created by deep learning and computer vision. These datasets are refined by weight and brand-level detection enabled through Recycleye’s vision system. This technology holds world-leading accuracy that has disrupted the waste industry, and is revolutionising the current waste infrastructure.


Images used on this page

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EU Flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813508.